BEIJING – (dpa) – Three Chinese astronauts returned to Earth today, after spending China’s longest manned space mission to date.
The return capsule of the “Shenzhou 12” ship, upon its descent, was slowed down by a large parachute, and eventually, it landed in the Gobi Desert, northern China, as shown live on CCTV.
The astronauts, Ni Haisheng, Liu Beoming and Tang Hongbo, lifted off from Earth on July 17 and spent three months in space, a record for Chinese astronauts.
They spent most of their trip at the Tiangong space station, which is under construction and so far consists of the Tianhe core module.
It is scheduled to be completed by 2022, and China plans to send two more heavy units, each weighing 20 tons, into space, by then.
A cargo ship carrying more materials is scheduled to depart next week, and a new crew will head to the space station in October.
“I want to tell my parents that I’m back, in good health and in good spirits,” Tang Hongbo said in front of TV cameras, while he and his colleagues were resting on a chair, in front of the capsule.
Mission chief Ni Haisheng said as China becomes more powerful and the level of Chinese technology increases, I firmly believe that there will be more Chinese astronauts, who will make breakthroughs and set new records in the future.
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